There’s a reason why it’s called “content marketing” — content is the reason people come to your website, stick around, and share it.
And it comes in a variety of formats, typically falling into one of two umbrella categories: text and media. Though some marketers focus on just one, there’s a good reason to use different types — a diverse content strategy can attract more readers.
Odds are you’ll find a combination of content formats on your favorite blog, website, or social media channel. We’ll cover eight of those forms being created and published online, starting with the most easily recognizable and accessible forms.
Once thought of as a digital journaling medium, blogs were one of the first ways to make your voice heard online.
And while blogs can still be used as journals, they’ve also taken on a more significant role — helping both businesses and individuals establish their voice on a particular issue, product, or service.
More and more, you’ll see businesses using blog posts as the cornerstone of their marketing strategies. That’s because, with a blog, you can define your company’s brand voice, generate new leads, and engage new and returning customers. Moreover, blogs can also establish your brand as an authority in a certain space.
But blogs aren’t only for big corporations—they’re also effective for personal branding. Take, for example, these companies and thought leaders who have established tremendous readerships through their blogs:
2. Long-Form Articles
True to their name, long-form articles climb into well over 1,000 words and therefore require more time and effort than their short-form counterparts. You can find both on blogs, but long-form content also excels as stand-alone landing pages.
Done well, long-form articles can establish your expertise on a specific subject. And though they demand more work during the creation process, the payoff in reader loyalty is well worth it.
You’ll often find this type of content in the form of an “ultimate guide” or instructional post. For an idea of how that might look, check out the following examples:
- How to Travel Around the World for $418
- How to Write a Blog Post in 2019: The Ultimate Guide
- Lessons Learned from my First Year of Self Employment
With well-researched long-form articles, your website can become the one-stop shop for anyone seeking information on a particular topic.
As a visual form of content, infographics are easily digestible to the average user. Though often used as supplements to written content like blogs or articles, infographics can also be shared on their own, and sometimes go viral.
For some inspiration, take a look at the following:
- Collapsing Seas: Population Declines in our Oceans and Seas
- How can you prevent a home burglary?
- The 16 Personality Types: An In-depth Look
You can also use infographics to promote longer-form content by including their major points and then linking to the original article. In this way, infographics have incredible SEO value for generating traffic as well as increasing brand awareness.
4. Case Studies
In simple terms, a case study is an in-depth examination of an issue. They generally follow a linear, explanatory structure:
- A summary of the overall study
- A description of the problem solved, or hypothesis tested
- A breakdown of the solution
- A recap of the results
The idea behind case studies is for potential customers to see how you or someone effectively solved a pain point similar to theirs—and convince them to come to you for the same results. If well written and convincing, case studies can end up making for highly shareable content.
Moreover, because this is your data and a real situation that you helped solve, case studies are an excellent opportunity to establish your expertise.
Check out these examples to see what makes a case study effective.
5. White Papers
As with case studies, white papers are in-depth explorations of a subject.
But whereas case studies focus on a specific event and how you solved it, white papers explore issues and problems at large, leveraging your expertise to explain both the problem and potential solutions.
They’re used to inform readers both inside and outside of their industry, generally through more technical information and data. In this way, white papers tend to be more academic in nature.
And unlike case studies, white papers are typically presented as PDFs rather than as on-page content. They also tend to be quite lengthy—anywhere from 6 to 20 pages long.
For instance, the World Economic Forum regularly publishes white papers on new technologies and issues that impact local businesses and the global economy.
Already popular, video is quickly becoming an essential part of many businesses’ marketing campaigns. Every social medium supports it, from the obvious choice of YouTube to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
What makes video content so effective? Simply put, it grabs attention and evokes emotion. Just take a look at this video ad from Reebok.
What’s more, video content helps convert customers, especially by way of demos and how-to guides. In fact, 73% of people are more likely to make a purchase if they can watch a video explaining a product or service beforehand.
Ebooks, short for “electronic books,” are another type of long-form content, but available on computers, mobile devices, ebook readers, and as PDFs. They’re useful for providing information and insight on a topic while keeping the sales tactics to a minimum.
Why incorporate ebooks into your content strategy?
They can be easily monetized, generate subscribers to an email list, and attract new leads. Moreover, they help build readership and customer loyalty. Brands like Marketo take full advantage of these benefits by offering a whole library of helpful ebooks.
If you’re considering publishing an ebook, make sure the reader is getting something out of it; people can tell if your 30-page ebook is really just a 30-page sales pitch.
If designed well, free downloadable items are almost a surefire way to generate new visitors to your website. You can even incorporate your logo into the downloadable so that users are reminded of your brand whenever they use it.
For an idea of how that might look, check out Mint’s monthly budget template.
Downloadables don’t have to be fancy, but they must provide some value to the reader. Otherwise, why would anyone download it?
Again, you’re providing content that will help readers and keep you top-of-mind when they’re looking for resources.
Examples of other downloadable content include:
- A template for starting your own business
- An invoice template for freelancers
- Blank coloring pages in PDF format
No matter which content format you decide on, it’s important to incorporate a variety into your larger, overarching content strategy.
A mixture of different types of content — for instance, blog articles with infographics and videos — can help you tap into a wider audience. Not to mention, diversifying your content can also help differentiate yourself from the competition.
Written by Joyce Chou